Physically safeguarding your digital assets is every bit as important as backing up your data, having antivirus on your computer or any other safety procedure related to protecting digital information. For the past couple of years, the conversations regarding safeguarding digital materials have centered largely on cloud storage. The fact remains, however, that keeping a physical copy of data that you have backed up is important. After all, cloud storage facilities have certainly had failures before. Having a copy of your data on hand in addition to having a copy backed up in a cloud is a more sensible strategy.
Digital information faces the same threats that any other archived information you possess faces. For the sake of simplicity, these can be broken down into two types of threats: those threats that emanate from people, such as theft; those threats that emanate from the environment, such as fires and floods. Digital media needs protection from both.
The Human Threat
Protecting digital media from theft or unauthorized copying is no different than protecting paper files from either. It comes down to a question of access control. Access control can be affected by controlling access to the actual room in which the media is stored, placing the media in a safe or vaults where a combination or key is needed to gain access or removing the media to a different premises where it may be safer all-around. There’s a distinction here between personal and business materials. Personal materials will generally be stored in your house, meaning that, while you can affect a high level of security, it generally will not be as high as the level of security you have in your office or other place of work.
To prevent digital media from being stolen, access control and site monitoring are excellent strategies. Safes and vaults are affordable – even in the case of very secure models these days – and wireless security cameras are very affordable, as well. There’s really no reason that you shouldn’t have both. In your home, security cameras may be a bit of overkill but they are certainly necessary in a business environment.
The Environmental Threat
Environmental threats to digital media are more likely to be issues than is theft, in most cases. In fact, even dust is an environmental threat to most digital media storage sites. Ideally, digital media of any type should be stored in an environment where dust, temperature, humidity and other environmental variables can be controlled to a very exacting degree.
Again, safes and vaults are excellent for this because they provide protection against fire and floods, depending upon what type of safe or vaults you have. These safes and vaults will have a burn rating, which will give you a rough estimate of how long it can be exposed to temperatures of certain intensity before the materials stored inside are inevitably damaged. Having a good fire control system is imperative toward keeping digital media safe. You’ll also want to make certain that you have an expert look at your room and determine how to control the humidity and other variables so that you know everything is stored in an environment that will not, in and of itself, cause damage to your materials.
Digital media that’s being used to archive information really only needs to be accessed minimally, in most cases. For example, if you fill up a DVD or a flash drive with all of your tax records, put it in a safe, lock the door and just leave it there. Only pull it out if you plan to add more information to it. With any digital media, the less you handle it the less it is exposed to risks that could compromise the integrity of the data.